Thursday, June 18, 1998

Tandem Skydiving in Perris, CA

Mary Ann and I went tandem skydiving on the 13th this weekend in Perris, CA. Mary Ann had wanted to go skydiving ever since I told her about my earlier experiences jumping from a plane. She was super excited when I got her a gift certificate for Christmas.

Mary Ann skydiving in Perris
I was really looking forward to the tandem jump as well. I have jumped out of a plane six times previously but because they were solo jumps my parachute was pulled open by a static line attached to the plane. Static-line skydiving was great, but I didn't get to experience much free-falling as I jumped out at only 3,000 feet and I'd only get a few seconds to enjoy the free-fall before the chute jerked open.

Noah jumping out of plane in Perris
The instructors were really nice up in Perris and because we were doing tandem jumps we only had to take a short half-hour class before our flight. The plane at Perris was big and held a large group comfortably, unlike the small Cessna I had experienced before. We boarded and the plane climbed up to 12,500 feet before leveling off. Mary Ann was at the other end of the plane with her instructor and cameraman and was chatting and laughing so I wasn't nervous for her.

Noah skydiving in Perris
Mary Ann went out of the plane several minutes before I did and she handled it very well. Normally, I have major butterflies before jumping out of a plane by myself, but with an experienced instructor strapped to my back I was worry-free this time. The cameraman assigned to me climbed out the door before us and hung onto the side of the plane and jumped at the same time we went out of the door into the wide open sky. The free-fall lasted 45 seconds which doesn't sound like very long but seems like an eternity up in the sky. We did a few spins and interacted with the cameraman before I pulled the ripcord and we took a long leisurely ride down to the ground.

Noah & Mary Ann after skydiving
On the ground, Mary Ann was smiling from ear-to-ear as she described her jump to me and how she and her instructor had gotten off-course and had to land in a nearby field. We waited around awhile to watch the videos of our jumps and get our film before heading home. Mary Ann fell asleep in the car on the drive back. I was not surprised, the adrenaline rush of skydiving really drains you after the first time.

Static-Line Parachute Jump Post

Sunday, May 31, 1998

Trip to Denver, Colorado

My company sent me on a business trip to Denver to learn some new software from our office there. Mary Ann came with me as well and we had a great time checking out the city, visiting the downtown restaurants and shops as well as Coors Field. I have always heard about the effects of the altitude here in the Mile High City, but I never understood it until now. It made me feel as weak as a kitten.

Mary Ann and I also visited her favorite cousin who lives here in Denver. He is an inventor of mining equipment and he showed us around his cool-looking shop. He then took us for a drive around the city and into the nearby mountains to visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It is an open-air amphitheatre which has hosted many famous bands and televised concerts. Large natural rock formations jut out on either side of the seating area to give the amphitheatre it's perfect acoustics.

Mary Ann's cousin is a geologist as well and he gave us an interesting overview on how the Rocky Mountains formed and its effect on the surrounding landscape. He also showed us some cool dinosaur tracks that are over 150 million years old. They had been very well preserved because the rising mountains had pushed the tracks in the ground into a protected vertical position. We also checked out the Coors Brewery in Golden which is the world's largest single brewery.

p.s. On the news one night in our hotel room, I was shocked to find out that Phil Hartman had been murdered by his wife. He is a comedic genius and played a hilarious character on my favorite show, NewsRadio as well as Saturday Night Live. I will miss him.

Sunday, March 15, 1998

Army Reserves - Honorable Discharge

I am now formally out of the Army as of March 10, 1998. I have received my certificate in the mail for an Honorable Discharge after 8 years in the Army Reserves. After six years going to weekend drills and two-week annual training, I have spent the last two years as a member of the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve). As a member of the IRR, I didn't have to go to drill any more but I was still in the computer in case I had to be called up in the case of war.

Friday, February 20, 1998

Short Story: Spider

The alarm went off. The incessant beeping jarred me awake. I scrunched my shoulders and gritted my teeth against the noise as I jumped out of bed and hit the snooze button with a practiced slap. The clock read 5:50 am as I climbed back into the small twin sized bed with Mary Ann. I clambered under the thick comforter and snuggled up against her body for warmth.

“What time is it?” Mary Ann asked, raising her head.

“Huh?” I mumbled, already half-asleep. “Oh, a little before six.”

“I should go,” she said placing her chin on my arm, sitting half up.

“Yes,” I responded before promptly falling back asleep.

I was nudged awake. “There is something crawling on me,” Mary Ann said in a frantic voice, She brushed at herself as she lay face down on her stomach.

“Yeah,” I responded without understanding. I saw her faintly in the early morning light through my squinted eyes. But my eyes closed and I was immediately asleep.

“I killed it,” Mary Ann crowed, reawakening me after only a few seconds. “I smashed it on me and brushed it into the crack between the wall and the bed.” I raised up on my elbows as I tried to comprehend what she was talking about.

“Good thing the light was off or I would have been too scared,” Mary Ann continued. “It felt big and hairy.” She readjusted the pillow for her head preparing to lie back down.

“My hero,” I said blandly, teasing her. I gave her a hug.

Mary Ann burst into laughter, squeezing me back. “My hero!” she repeated back, giggling, as I joined in. We laughed together for a few moments.

I drifted quickly back to sleep and decided I shouldn’t tell her about the black hairy spiders with the yellow spots on their backs that I often saw cruising around lately.

The loud alarm went off again a few moments later.

Wednesday, January 28, 1998

Cantamar Sand Dunes in Baja, Mexico

Mary Ann and I went down to Tijuana, Mexico in her car to do some shopping. The driving in TJ is always a little freaky but Mary Ann was fearless and aggressive as any of the city's taxi drivers. I was very impressed. After hanging out a bit, we decided to explore further south and headed towards Ensenada. The coastline scenery along the windy toll road was great as always.

We were heading south of Puerto Nuevo (famous for its lobsters) as the sun was going down and we saw a large sand dune field alongside the road. We decided to check it out, so we exited onto the free road at the little village of Punta Cantamar and parked at the edge of town. We left our car and went through a metal gate onto the dunes. This is the first sand dunes I had seen since visiting the dune field in France. I had a fun time there with Greg, but I am still bummed that our pictures from there were lost when our camera was stolen.

The sand dunes were beautiful but there was lots of broken glass so we had to be careful where we stepped as we explored. Near the beach, we found a nice a little spot away from the people riding motorcycles and ATV's. We had a fun time jumping off the side of dunes into the soft sand below and watching the sun go down.

We were hungry when we got back to the car, so we decided to head back to Rosarito which is 15 minutes north of Puerto Nuevo. We walked around the Rosarito Beach Hotel and ate a nice dinner before driving home.